I had no trouble getting back into my routine after returning from Las Vegas, but one piece of news threw me for a loop.
One of my undergraduate assistants informed me that the week would be his last, even though he originally had plans to stay and help me out for a longer period of time.
Even though his change of plans was a disappointment, he still came in over the weekend, and so at least I had one solid weekend free from the constraints of lab. I definitely took advantage of this.
I was able to take the car out to Encino, and from Santa Monica it was an (almost) easy drive up the 405. I was also able to avoid paying for street parking by finding a neighborhood to park at and from there walk over.
Veggie Grill was my destination since they sent me a $5 off birthday coupon that I couldn’t resist…
…and the dish I couldn’t avoid ordering, despite having it before AND the fact that their summer menu had a mouth-watering array of options. A plate of Mondo Nachos sounded just perfect at the time.
Compared to the plate I had at the WeHo location more than a year ago, I felt like it lacked a lot of guac and soy crumbles (they replaced it with grilled chik’n this time around). This was more of an observation than a complaint, however. I also brought my laptop and did some work at the restaurant for a few hours after eating. I guess it’s more “normal” to set up shop like that at a Starbucks or a cafe,but Veggie Grill had a jammin’ playlist so I wasn’t too pressured to get up and leave!
I headed out a little after 1 and my next stop was in Grocery Outlet in Burbank. I inevitably had to face traffic, and it took me almost thirty minutes to get from Encino to Burbank.
When I did arrive however, I was ecstatic to finally be stepping into one of GO’s newer So Cal locations. Ah, it had been too long!
I made out with a week’s worth of food with plenty of change to spare, so it only made sense to drive by Glendale and finally get me some Yoga-Urt! They had been on my radar for quite some time now, and I’ve actually been following them on Instagram since their opening two years ago in 2015! Getting there by public transit always posed a challenge, but with a car handy it’s really not that impossible to get to.
The shop is very small, with a few patio chairs and tables in the front. There’s also a huge blackboard wall near the entrance, the contents of which are frequently changing.
They offered a lot on their menu, but their flavors of soft serve were limited for the day.
A turmeric/gold rose flavor sounded unique, and was listed as one of their offered flavors, but unfortunately not on the day I visited.
A small cup of froyo with one topping proved to be pricey (~$6!), but since it was vegan-friendly and a hand-crafted kind of place, I thought it was a worthy treat to splurge on. I ended up going for the Peanut Butter Prana topped with dried mulberries.
I enjoyed my cup outside, and marveled at how thick the soft serve was. It was like those So Delicious ice creams I rave about, except smoother and creamier. The mulberries added some varied crunch, but to be honest they weren’t a vital component.
After spending the day driving and eating through North LA, I made the drive back home, and spent the remainder of the evening napping and catching up on some work. I was squeezing every minute out of this “free” weekend, because who know when my next one will be!
I didn’t go out of my way to carbo-load the day before the marathon, but I did eat throughout the day, kept hydrated, and stuck to foods I knew wouldn’t throw me off.
I was sent two vouchers for a free bread item and a drink to use at one of 85C Bakery’s newest locations—in Glendale. Since E and I have been hanging outside of lab together more frequently now, I asked if she wanted to make a day out of it, and she happily agreed.
We met in downtown and then took a bus that stops close to the Galleria. From there, it was a short walk to the bakery.
E and I both got trays and walked through the aisles, seeing what lovely little bread creations we’d come across.
I decided to get a cranberry cream cheese yudane roll, while E got a wild mushroom cheese bread loaf.
For my drink, I opted for a hot green milky tea. E ended up going for a cold lemonade. We found seats by the window, and as soon as we had our food and drinks, we settled in.
My cranberry cream cheese yudane roll had a rough texture on the outside, but this was completely opposite of its interior texture. The roll had a sufficient amount of cream cheese and cranberries (though both of these ingredients tended to separate from one another) and was quite chewy. The milky green tea on the other hand was watered down in my opinion. There was a faint taste of tea, but overall, it just tasted (?) like warm water.
After our bread/tea break, we walked over to the Galleria and made a round inside the mall. Both of us did end up buying something to add to our wardrobes, but we didn’t spend too much time shopping.
We soon walked over to the Americana at Brand right next door, and stopped to sit down and hydrate with some water. As it approached 4pm, I felt like it would be wise to head back and rest up for my race the next day, so we made our way to the bus stop for the ride home.
Do you prefer sweet bread items (danishes, sweet rolls) or just go for the 100% sweet stuff (cakes, pies) ?
For the first half of March, I experienced my first running-related injury that kept me out from running for about 1 1/2 weeks. It was groin pull, and it took me by surprise…causing my pace to slow down and my thigh to really feel aggravated. I did end up taking ibuprofen towards the later half of that week, and that seemed to help with the inflammation. I was worried that I wouldn’t be in top condition for a 10k I had signed up for a few weeks prior, but I was able to have enough time to rest up, and do a decent job on race day.
This race wasn’t as intense as the LA Marathon, but it was a race that I wanted to enjoy running in, as much as eating afterwards…
Instead of waking up two hours earlier than the starting time just to take public transit, I called an Uber around 6am, and only had to pay ~$11 for my trip to the woods of Griffith Park. My driver was like “are you sure you want to be dropped off here?”, referring to the darkness/tall trees, but since I saw some runners in the distance, I said it should be fine.
And with an inflatable Menchie’s character in my view, I’m pretty sure I was in the right place.
After showing ID, I was able to pick up some goodies that included shades and a hat. Unfortunately, no race shirt was being given away at this race.
Since I was still a little early, I wandered around the tent area aimlessly until it was about race start time.
The 10k began a little after a 7am, and consisted of two loops around an area of Griffith Park. We even managed to run through areas where some of my marathon team training runs took place. To be honest though, running in Griffith Park can get a bit boring after awhile, but there are plenty of hills to wake you up from the creeping mediocrity!
The length of the race actually ended up being closer to 5.4 miles rather than a 6.2 miler/10k. Even so, I ran it at a 9:24/mi pace, which I was happy with since I was still dealing with a lingering injury.
Once I made it back down to the tents, I was able to redeem my free FROYO, pretty much the whole purpose of this run!
I chose to get a vanilla snow base, topped with oreo cookie crumbles and M&Ms. Other toppings like granola and almonds were available too, but c’mon, you can’t put that up against candy 😉
I LOVE how the medal was an actual spoon. When I came home that afternoon, I literally ripped off the ribbon and stored the spoon away in my kitchen drawer. Yup, this is my first “useful” race medal.
Since the race didn’t have a spectacular post-race party beyond free froyo, I decided to walk back into the city, and ended up in Glendale’s Atwater Village, where I was many moons ago chowing down on the most gorgeous Mediterranean platter (that also garnered many admiring eyes on Insta 😛 ).
This time, I turned in the opposite direction to check out Hugo’s for some filling, brunch-y vegetarian Mexican food.
Hugo’s Tacos also offers meat options, but I appreciate how they have good protein options for veggie peeps too!
Even though it was barely lunchtime, I opted for the nachos platter with soy chorizo and vegan cheese.
I ordered at the counter, waited at the bench in front, and my nachos were ready within ten minutes. I grabbed my tray and walked over to the side of the food stand, and found a table to sit down at.
The nachos looked great from the side, but oh so magical from the top…
By eating my nachos with a fork, I was able to add a good-sized dollop of cheese, cubed potatoes, spicy soy chorizo, and zucchini cubes onto each crispy tortilla chips. There was a refreshing green dollop of guac on top, and fine layer of white beans on the bottom.
I felt perfectly full at the end of this meal, and did not feel like I had to waddle to the bus stop. I had replenished my depleted energy stores from my run in the morning, and refueled enough to go grocery shopping at the Sprouts in Burbank.
I even had enough energy to anchor myself to the table and finish up that 20-page paper that owned the rest of that weekend, too. 😉
Have you ever had to deal with an annoying running injury?
Sometimes, it can be hard to resist even the smallest of sweet cravings. Saturday was just one of those days I felt like having dessert as my main meal, and even if it was past the “normal” breakfast time frame, pancakes were just calling my name…
It may have been a length journey traveling to Burbank via public transit (almost two hours!), but when I made it to Bea Bea’s, all seemed right with the world 🙂
I made it in an hour before closing at 4pm, and was able to get a table and plenty of time to look at the menu. They had daily specials that sounded appetizing, but I was definitely here for the one and only Matcha Green Tea Monster.
These green-tea infused pancakes with marscapone, white chocolate chips, and whipped cream were almost too beautiful to eat. I’m not even sure why syrup was given on the side—totally unnecessary, and such a distraction 😉
I tried the marscapone/whipped cream first on its own, and then lathered that all over the pancakes anyway because it was rapidly melting. I doubted the fact that there were white chocolate chips mixed in, but I soon spotted the familiar shape poking through.
So I was back on the bus, this time off to Glendale to check out the Sprinkles location at Americana at Brand.
It was 5pm by the time I got there, but it felt like mid-summer, especially with the crowds.
Unlike the Beverly Hills location, this Sprinkles was styled like a kiosk, with the only seating some outdoor tables close by.
The cupcakes were prominently displayed behind a curved window that followed alongside the queue.
But with a menu in hand with the daily cupcake and ice cream flavors, I knew exactly what my cupcake sundae would consist of.
On a late-September day that felt like mid-July, the only way to bring back the autumn mood was with a pumpkin cupcake and caramel ice cream.
My favorite part of these cupcake sundaes is obviously the top with the frosting and all. Frosting > cake in my opinion 😉
I enjoyed my autumn-inducing dessert near the main fountain, since all of the Sprinkles-designated seats were taken. A security officer even took notice of my sweet treat, and paid her compliments 😛 .
Surprisingly, my sugar cravings commenced as I finished the last morsel of my cupcake sundae. I guess I had my fill, and was ready to head back home knowing I was able to successfully appease my sugar cravings.
No shame in a little sugar indulgence now and then—especially if it’s a Saturday, and if the word cake is involved 🙂 !
Since Sunday was the last day of summer— the last day before the semester began again—I made it a priority to go out for a late lunch, even if it meant a boring, hour-long mid-day bus ride to Atwater Village in Glendale. When classes start, work multiplies by a bajillion, so I was anxious to squeeze in as much relaxation/carefree time within 24 hours…
I don’t count my lab work as real work (since working on a project has more structure and meaning than reading countless papers for class…), even on the weekends 😉
So after lab and the bus ride, I had to walk through a residential area to finally get onto Glendale Ave.
As I continued forth on the road, I passed by local boutiques, a dance studio, and finally found Dune Kitchen…the place I hoped would have something to appease the sudden Mediterranean food craving I developed in the days leading up to the weekend.
Dune Kitchen would have been so difficult to find if I had not seen a picture for its exterior prior to my visit. Inside, the gray, unassuming theme continued onwards. The only inside seating was bar-style, but there were tables outside right in front.
I made my order for a hummus + falafel plate at the cash register, and as soon as I found a seat, my plate came out in all of its glory. Not a minute was wasted, and that’s just how I like it 😉
There were some condiments and hot sauce at the counter, but unadulterated hummus is the way to go if you ask me.
It was hard not to take countless pictures from different angles of this beauty of a plate.
There were three spinach-flavored falafels, with sauce drizzled over them…
…spicy cabbage and onions (<—the onions were my favorite!!)
The star of the plate at the center: hummus with chickpeas in sauce:
And a fun assortment of diced pickles 🙂
I even found a miniature flower in the middle of my greens!
The pita bread was soft, pliable, and just so perfect with the hummus, which honestly was hard to split among my three falafel and veggies in the plate! I made it all work in the end though…maybe too perfectly since by the time I demolished my plate, I realized how insane my hummus craving was. 😛
This past weekend was one of those weekends that went from being unplanned to booked! I was already looking forward to being able to wake up when I wanted to on Saturday—without having to worry about rushing to lab—but other than that, I didn’t have much planned other than checking out a cafe in the area I was grocery shopping, and then just relaxing at home.
But when one of my friends texted me Friday morning about her birthday celebrations the next day, and how she would be glad if I could make it, I couldn’t deny the opportunity to connect with my class friends over some birthday dinner. After all, it had been a month since we last met up at our professor’s end-of-the-year gathering!
I continued on with my Friday doing some low-key data analysis in lab. Before heading home, I stopped by Ralph’s and happened to stumble across the Arctic Zero flavor I thought I would never come across…
The Key Lime Pie Chunky Pint! Though, to be honest, this flavor didn’t meet my high-to-the-sky expectations. I found the lime flavor to be a bit too tangy, and the graham cracker pieces to not have much flavor. I guess after sampling all of those Ben & Jerry’s Core Pints as of late, my standards for the perfect pint of ice cream have risen to a higher standard. But to be fair, Arctic Zero is technically a “frozen dessert”, and for being only 300 calories, it’s certainly not something to brush off..
On Saturday morning, I tried another new-to-me product that I’ve been waiting ages to try—Chobani’s Salted Caramel Crunch flip yogurt!
I actually sort of liked this flavor, though it was mostly due to the candied pecans more than anything else. Promptly after having this snack, I went back to sleep for two more hours. It was glorious…
After waking up again, I got ready quite slowly, and left the apartment in the late morning to buy my friend a gift for her birthday. I then hopped on the train to Pasadena to grab my Quest bars for the week from Vitamin Shoppe before heading over to Alhambra. At first I thought I would have to walk an extra half an hour from Vitamin Shopped to downtown Pasadena in the hot sun (and was not looking forward to that…), but since a music festival was happening in the heart of Old Pasadena, the local bus system was offering a free shuttle for the day! I took advantage of this, and used it to get to the bus stop that would take me straight to downtown Alhambra.
The bus ride was about an hour long, and I could feel myself drift in and out of sleep. Fortunately I did not sleep through my stop, and got off on Main St.
I had half an hour to spare once I arrived at the restaurant.
I used that time to quickly freshen up in the restroom, and then rested in the front waiting area until my friends and the birthday girl arrived.
Once the gang was all together, we were taken to booth seats near the back center of the restaurant, and divided ourselves so there was 5 people for each of the two grills. I wasn’t the only vegetarian fortunately, and I was able to share some of the grilled veggie goodness with another girl. I also didn’t feel too guilty about having the carnivores wait when they changed out our grill to cook the veggies 😉
To start off, we were able to help ourselves to different kinds of kimchi, potato salad that looked like vanilla ice cream scoops, and salad dressed in a sweet-n-spicy type vinaigrette. Then the meats came and my friends got to work. My veggie pal and I sat patiently, using our chopsticks to pick at the little pieces of kimchi left until our veggie plates arrived.
Once our veggie plates did arrive, our server switched out the grill, got us some new tongs, and we were free to pack on as many peppers, onions, pineapples, and mushrooms our veggie-lovin’ hearts desired. We also helped ourselves to some glass noodles and rice cakes shaped like cylinders and topped with hot sauce.
Despite “only having vegetables”, I got full pretty quickly. Fibrous, spicy food can do that to ya, and it’s a lesson I’ll never learn! But I can’t imagine how STUFFED my carnivorous friends were feeling…we had a 2-hour limit, but we were all had our fill before the first hour struck! And despite feeling full, most of the party was still up for bar hopping…
I however, was ready to head back home. It would take me another hour after all, and drinking away the night isn’t exactly “my thing”. Ironically, the birthday girl was feeling tired herself, but she had to keep on going for the sake of her guests 😉
After giving my friend her gift, she waited with me at the bus stop until my bus arrived. It was nice catching up with her since we’ve both been busy with lab and other things…it’s hard to believe that just a little over six months ago, we were rotating in labs that shared lab meetings, and that we used to take a little too many coffee breaks over those eight weeks 😛 !
Once I got back to the apartment, my sweet tooth kicked in, and I decided to have my B&J’s pint that evening as a nightcap/pre-long run fuel 😉
Oh yes…I managed to include another core sampling in this “unplanned” weekend. Two things won me over with this pint: A) 100% of the ice cream was one flavor (sweet cream), and while I do love variety, I don’t find myself a fan of B&J’s chocolate, and have found that flavor to be somewhat of a “nuissance” when paired with another flavor in a pint & B) the caramel core that surprisingly kept its sticky consistency. How this core filling manages to avoid getting frozen/damp is a mystery to me, but whatever it is eems to work!
The next morning, I woke up and went out for a 12 mile long run an hour later than usual! While I enjoyed getting up leisurely, I realized that the benefit of running at 6AM on a Sunday—not having to stop for traffic while running on city streets—should not be taken for granted! I ended up finishing close to 10AM due to my later start, and the inevitable stop lights I had to take heed to :/
After my run, I cleaned up around the apartment before heading out for a late lunch. I initially thought about checking out a donut shop near Eagle Rock in honor of (late) National Donut Day, but decided that the trip out and back wasn’t worth the voracious hunger I was starting to feel…I needed a substantial meal!
So that’s how I ended up walking alongside the railroad tracks in sunny Glendale.
The bus ride was another sleep-inducing, hour-long one, so taking a walk to the restaurant from the bus stop was quite refreshing—especially with the sun out!
My destination that day was Golden Road Brew, a pub/restaurant that was nestled close to the railroad tracks, and off the beaten path.
I didn’t come for the alcohol like some though…
I came for the vegan food. It took me a while to find a seat though, since the restaurant was packed both indoors and outdoors! I ended up sitting in the middle of a long table outside, and surprisingly was able to garner the attention of a waitress as soon as I sat down.
I wasn’t sure what to order first–whether to go with a vegan appetizer and hearty salad, or bet it all on a carb-o-licious sandwich and fries—but I chose to try the Fried ALT to start off with, since fried avocado sandwiched between a baguette lathered with sun-dried tomato aioli sounded appetizing enough!
Um, yeah. The appearance surely made an impression.
BUUUUT…it just wasn’t enough for this runner girl. I was craving more carbs, and so when the waitress came around to me again and asked if I needed anything else, I replied with, “Can I get the pub pretzel?” and did not feel an ounce of guilt/embarrassment for placing an order just after having my “meal” 😛 .
When the pretzel arrived, I knew there was no question about this being enough to fill me up…
It was a grand vegan pretzel, with the perfect outside crunch and soft, chewy texture on the inside. The saltiness was spot on, and came with two small cups of vegan pimento-cheese-like sauce and a solo cup of spicy Dijon mustard.
Even though it was meant to be an appetizer item, it worked as great way to complete my meal. I had a renewed sense of energy, and enjoyed soaking in the sun’s June rays while walking back to bus stop. I made it home close to 7pm, and went to sleep soundly that night.
Just one weekend seems to have done the trick—I’m ready to take on the rest of June, and the start of summer!